Getting hit with data overage charges? Is your family’s cellphone bill busting your budget? Now you can land a better, cheaper smartphone plan.
Intense competition has wrought a much wider selection of no-contract options with lower-price service plans. T-Mobile led the charge in spring 2013 by discontinuing two-year contracts on all of its plans. After studying more than 70 plans from 10 different wireless carriers, Here are the best plans for every kind of user.
Best plan: Verizon Wireless More Everything
When several people share a wireless plan, strong overall coverage is crucial specially if family members are scattered across the country or travel frequently. The plan provides unlimited voice minutes and texts, and it lets you choose how much data family members share.
Runner-up: T-Mobile Simple Choice
If low prices are your priority, consider this plan. A family of four would pay only $140 per month for unlimited talk and texts and 3GB of full-speed data per person.
Best plan: T-Mobile Pay As You Go
T-Mobile’s plan is simple and flexible. Each month, you prepay for a minimum of $3 worth of combined voice minutes and text messages. If necessary, you can add more value from your credit card, a checking account or a T-Mobile refill card.
Runner-up: Virgin Mobile PayLo
Virgin has several plans to choose from, depending on how many minutes and text messages you use and how much data you want.Text messages are 15 cents each, and Web access is $1.50 per megabyte. For $30 per month, you’ll get 1,500 minutes and 1,500 text messages, plus 30MB of data.
Best plan: T-Mobile Simple Choice
If you burn through data each month say, because you stream a lot of music or videos on your mobile device an unlimited-data plan will give you peace of mind that you won’t exceed your allotment and rack up big charges.
Runner-up: Sprint $60 Unlimited Plan
Sprint has reworked its unlimited-data plan, and its new offering beats T-Mobile’s price by $20 a month. The Sprint plan comes with unlimited talk, texts and data, and customers who use it must pay full price for a phone or bring a compatible device.
Best plan: T-Mobile Jump
With this early-upgrade plan, you can get a new phone anytime you want as long as you pay off 50% of the phone’s full price (T-Mobile divides the price into 24 monthly installments). If you want out of the program, you can pay the full price of the phone and keep it.
Runner-up: AT&T Next
AT&T lets you pay for your phone over 20 or 24 monthly installments. If you choose the 20-month option, you can trade in your phone and upgrade to a new one after 12 months; the 24-month option allows you to trade in your phone at 18 months.